Downtown Scottsdale Urban Design Guidelines and Fifth Avenue Public Spaces Design

Client: City of Scottsdale, Arizona.


New courtyard pedestrian space.

The Downtown Scottsdale Urban Design Guidelines were developed as a comprehensive set of design and development standards for the city's Downtown core. The Guidelines describe urban design, site planning and architectural principles to create a pedestrian-oriented Downtown development pattern and integrate new infill development with older buildings.

Downtown Scottsdale has been in the midst of an intense building period. The Downtown area is one of a few public shopping districts in the metropolitan Phoenix area that retains a strong pedestrian orientation despite recent significant development. Citizens have felt strongly about preserving Downtown's intimate character while supporting the city's future economic development.

The Urban Design Guidelines provide for a high-intensity, compact pattern of mixed-use development, emphasizing pedestrian orientation of buildings and outdoor spaces, pedestrian linkages between neighboring Downtown districts, preservation of older buildings, and incentives for mixed-use development that includes housing.

Following adoption of the Urban Design Guidelines by City Council, Gast-Hillmer served as urban design consultant to Sydnor Architects for the Fifth Avenue District Street and Public Spaces design project which implemented many of the public space elements of the Downtown Urban Design Guidelines.

Key Elements

  • Specific measures to improve the quality and continuity of public street spaces: continuous building and street edges with "build to" lines; design of street, sidewalk, lighting, graphics and public space improvements.
  • Guidelines to insure active building frontages through frequent entrances, opportunities for views into interior courtyards and attention to architectural scale.
  • Requirements for new development to carefully relate to the site organization and building massing of neighboring development.
  • Continuation of local and regional architectural traditions, especially those relating to climate criteria and protection from the intense summer sun. The Guidelines encourage covered walkways, courtyards, shaded site spaces, deep window recesses, strong shadow patterns, frequent use of outdoor stairs, balconies and terraces.

Process and Adoption

The project was conducted with extensive participation by citizens, community leaders, City officials and staff. The Guidelines are used by the City's Planning staff, Development Review Board, Planning Commission and City Council to evaluate development proposals. More importantly, the Guidelines provide urban design education and direction to developers and designers who work on Downtown projects.


Fifth Avenue District - Marshall Way Public Spaces Design (Douglas Sydnor)

Project Team

Principals: Gerald Gast and Dan Hillmer. Tim McGinty, Consulting architect. City of Scottsdale: Gary Roe, Downtown Planning Manager. William King, Planning Director. Public spaces design: Sydnor Associates, Douglas Sydnor.


Marshall Way Public Spaces